Want to try Windows Vista for free?

Just so you know: this page was imported from my old blog. Some pages were rather mangled in the process; my apologies if things don't quite look right.

(Further off-topic than a snowmobile in the desert. Or something...)

If you're interested in trying out Windows Vista, you can now download the RC1 version of Vista straight from Microsoft.

Because it's version RC1, it means Microsoft reckon it's almost finished - there are probably some bugs, but it's largely well-behaved. That said, you shouldn't really be thinking about replacing your working copy of Windows just yet, and there are some programs that probably won't work, but if you're curious ... ok, let's call a spade a spade here: if you're as much of a geek as I am - then you'll probably want to give this a go.

A couple of important things to remember:

  • It's not a "final" release - things will crash, break, not work, misbehave... Basically, if your sanity hangs in the balance at the moment, this will probably tip you over the edge. Don't say you haven't been warned...
  • You should install and run the Microsoft Upgrade Advisor before you try installing Vista - this tells you what software and hardware you have that won't work under Vista, and what software and hardware will probably misbehave.
  • You can upgrade an existing copy of Windows (2000 or XP I think), but you can't uninstall Vista - again, if you use your PC for work, or have irreplaceable stuff - photos, music, videos, etc - you shouldn't do it, just in case it all goes horribly wrong.
  • This version of Vista will work until May 31st 2007 - you'll then need to get the release version of Vista, or re-install an older copy of Windows.
  • You'll need a "passport" sign in - if you use MSN Messenger, you can sign in with that e-mail address and password. Otherwise, you'll need to sign up for one.
  • You will be given a working product key once you have signed in at the link, above. Remember to save the key - it'll also be e-mailed to you.

So far, I'm really impressed with Vista - it's actually faster than XP, has a lot of nice user interface touches, like the Launchy-style search in the start menu, and a search bar on every Explorer window. The sidebar is also a nice toy, and the gadgets actually work, which is always nice. It's probably a bit unfair to say Microsoft simply "borrowed" a stack of ideas from Apple's OS X operating system, but there's certainly a lot of inspiration there.

More information on this release of Vista can be found here.

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